Barber-Scotia College officials announced on Friday plans to secure the future of the 142-year-old historically Black institution by regaining accreditation, focusing on three core academic departments and renewing emphasis on the school’s religious roots.
The hope for the future of Barber-Scotia is centered on one of the school’s core mottos: In the beginning, faith. When the campus was founded, a group of local committed citizens came in and they wanted to build a new dormitory. One of them put a dime down. He said the rest will be built on faith. That dorm was named Faith Hall.
“That’s what were doing here,” Arkeem A.L. Fleming, Barber-Scotia’s chief advancement officer, said Friday.
The faith-based goals of the institution, commissioned by the Presbyterian Church in 1867, have driven them since the school’s accreditation was revoked by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2004. The move came after school officials said more than two dozen students in their adult education program had been awarded degrees without finishing the program’s requirements. Professors were not being paid on time, and the institution owed the city about $75,000 in unpaid utility services. At the time, there were 750 students enrolled.
The debts were paid, but problems persisted. By January 2006, the school had no students enrolled in its programs. Besides the school’s then-president, Dr. Mable Parker-McLean, one other full-time worker remained.
Fleming said officials worked from there to clean up the school’s image, which included eliminating many programs. Currently, the school only offers bachelor’s in religious studies, business entrepreneurship and bio-energy.
“The bio-energy curriculum puts us at the forefront as a state and national institution,” Fleming said. “That is the industry of the future. In fact, it’s the industry of today.”
Currently, there are 20 students enrolled in programs at Barber-Scotia, and Fleming said the goal is to achieve enrollment of 100 full-time students by fall 2010. Without accreditation, students do not receive federal financial aid to pay for their tuition. But, Fleming said, the school has institutional funds that cover most expenses for deserving students.
“To be a private institution, we’re very affordable,” he said. “And we’re continuing to recruit excellent students and funds that will help the students excel.”
The school is in the middle of a $10-million fundraising campaign to help with expected growth and research capabilities. Honorary chairs for the program include R&B superstar Monica. Officials are also continuing to look for companies to partner with to provide students hands-on experience, which is built into the third and fourth years of the degree programs.
The school has applied for accreditation with Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The group had a site visit on April 24 and 25. TRACS officials say they’re putting together a report to provide a timeline for requirements Barber-Scotia must meet to receive accreditation.
“We have a lot of positive support and great community support,” Fleming said. “When I look at our students and I look at the type of impact this is preparing them for, we’re making great progress.”
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